Today begins the final week of my 15 year old comic strip Tina’s Groove.
Did you see it coming? Have I failed in giving enough hints? Maybe you suspected that something was up, but then maybe you didn’t… until today. The one thing I’m sure of is that the last few weeks of Tina’s Groove were a departure from the norm. With the knowledge that these were to be my last months of writing and drawing the strip, I went a little crazy toying with it, and decided to break some walls and have some fun with themes that would've been out of place if I'd done them before. If you’ve been reading, you’ll agree that a whole week of “Bloopers & Outtakes” was a little off the beaten comic strip path. And what did you all think about “Tina’s Groove 50 Years Later”, and “15 Years Ago: the Tina’s Groove Casting Call”? Those week-long themes were all meant to prime you for what was ahead. Surely I made you wonder when I did a whole week of “Possible Futures for Tina,” and “Tina Quits and Trains her Replacement”? What a joy it was to write and draw those crazy weeks! I sincerely hope that you were entertained by these final strips — and all of the 5,725 strips that preceded it.
Some readers have written to me personally to express their thoughts on Tina’s retirement, while others gave feedback on various comment threads online. Although I haven’t gotten back to all the readers who wrote to me personally, I will. In any case, to all of you who have said goodbye to Tina, whether on social media, or to me directly, I just want to say that I very much appreciate your kind words and warm wishes, and am sending virtual hugs to each and every one of you. For those of you who have not been so kind towards my decision to end Tina's Groove, well, what would you like me to tell you? I’m sorry that I’ve made a career change that doesn’t sit well with you. In my next life I will try to make decisions catered more to your liking. (Sheesh.)
If you’ve read my previous blog post then you’ll know the reason behind my decision to retire Tina’s Groove. (If you haven’t read it, please click: “A Major Career Change” to find out what’s going on, and where you can continue to read my cartoons.)
Read ahead for a few brief thoughts, and a little trip through time.
The retirement of Tina's Groove is as wrapped in emotion as its launch had been for me, so many years ago. In times like these, when big changes and transitions colour my life, I feel pressured to say something meaningful. That’s difficult to do. I mean, how do I reduce the Tina’s Groove experience --- a trip of the imagination, a journey of 15 plus years made strip by strip, day by day (that’s 5,725 comic strips!) --- down to a summary of a few words? The strip is just too intimately intertwined with my life that I feel I'd get too sappy if I wrote my heart out.
Now for that dash to the past. I really don't know how to have Tina say goodbye, so instead I’ll leave you with this piece of paper from the time of her birth, circa 2000. I found it in a folder of old stuff. It’s a page of notes that I took while on the phone with Jay Kennedy (King Features’ comics editor at the time). He had decided that my as-of-yet-unnamed waitress character was worthy of development, and that maybe it would lead to a syndication contract. The notes in red pen are things that I had jotted down while Jay was offering me guidelines. The little notes in blue are my comments from today, 17 years later.
What a trip. Thanks to all of you readers out there for supporting Tina through her many adventures. And an enormous thank you to my editors in the King Features Editorial department: Brendan Burford, Ealish Waddell, Evelyn Smith (For Six Chix) and Jay Kennedy, (RIP) -- I would be lost without your expertise and creative guidance... and also a heartfelt thank you to the best Syndicate Sales Team in the business-- I could not have completed this journey without you guys... really.
A note on the final strips: The last week of the strip begins today, Monday June 26th, and runs to Saturday July 1st. If you read the comics in your local newspaper, then the final day of Tina’s Groove will be determined by the paper’s editor. In fact, in some newspapers, it has already been replaced with another comic strip. I have no say over that, unfortunately. If you’d like to see it to the end, then reading it online is your best bet. Here's a link: Comics Kingdom
Also of note: There are two Sundays that will appear as “normal” strips in that they do not refer to THE END. These will run on June 25th, and July 2nd (In Canadian newspapers, the Sunday comics are often run in the Saturday edition, so my fellow Canucks, please keep that in mind.)
If you'd like to continue to see me in the funny papers, please go read Rhymes With Orange! Click HERE for today’s Comic!